The Mill at Nayook

by Grant LNR

The Story and Building of a water powered Mill

One of the advantages of the garden railway is being able to use the topography, and the opportunities it provides. After all the real railways were faced with the same problems.I had an area at the end of the road that serves the Nayook station on the LNR Railway, that ended about 6" above the lake (pond) at the back of the water tank. Any photo's of this area, inevitably showed the fence on the other side of the yard as a backdrop. Not a good look.

There was a hill behind the station,that incorporated a waterfall, and this combination seemed to provide the logical site, that any self respecting early settler with a background in grain milling, would choose to build a water driven mill.

I fully expected any research to lead me to England, regarding mill history and construction, and was therefore quite surprised to learn how many large stone mills were built, and indeed still existed in my own state of  Victoria, Australia, some incorporating water wheels as large as 74 ft. in diameter. Unfortunately most English millers did not appreciate the fact that most of our rivers are not perennial, and many mills were converted to steam, both portable and stationary, quite early in their lives. This also suited my purpose as I had converted a Wilesco traction engine, after much measuring, into a close likeness of a Fowler B6 Road Loco, so this could frequent the vicinity with some purpose.

The Mill building was constructed of 'Hebel' blocks, a brand name for Aerated Autoclaved, concrete.(AAC) I purchased blocks (only two) 600mm x200mm x100mm, and chose to hand saw them down to 50mm thickness for the walls.

The building under construction, showing the wall thickness and the recesses for the windows. It can also be seen, how many pieces made up the walls. The building is quite large, approx. 2ft.Lx18 in.W x 2ft. H.

I planned for the first level of the building to be at almost water level, and run into the 'cliff' face, with the machinery level as an entire story above that, and as it was now at the afore-mentioned road level, it would incorporate a large sliding door and loading platform, for transhipment of product to the railway yard close by. The roof space  would be for grain storage, with a door to a landing above the wheel to adjust the Penstock gate, and the usual door above the loading stage at the other end with it's beam, block, and rope with bag chain. After each wall was fitted to the ground, Windows were made by drilling a number of holes to a depth of 1/2" then scraping out to template shape. Doors were similarly treated. Then all the outside surfaces were painted with acrylic greys and browns to represent Blue-stone, when dry, the horizontal joins and all the stone blocks were sawn and scraped in by hand, exposing the cream colour of the blocks as the mortar. A laborious and painful job.

Windows were made of acrylic sheet, shaped and painted to fit, and door hardware, hinges and knobs etc. made from steel, so it rusts prototypically. As I'm impatient I glued the walls together with an outdoor commercial contact adhesive,clamping this by means of long S/S rods threaded both ends, with suitable plates and nuts, that pass across the building from side to side, much as I've seen on blue-stone work around the state. The roof was first pitched in galvanized iron over a timber frame, followed by many sheets of hand rolled corrugated iron, (I think about 18-20 ally beer cans in this roof) with ally gutters, the downpipes and a collector box soldered up in brass.

The wheel was constructed of two rings of ply with belly planks and bucket faces of cedar, glued with epoxy, with three liberal coats of fibreglass resin. Spokes and centre made of timber, epoxy glued with steel centres turned up on the lathe. The whole set up in a jig for final assembly, to run true. A sluice constructed of cedar once again, with supports to suit the terrain (not an easy task,to support, without permanent fixing) and removable, for service. The wheel shaft has a 6" diam. flywheel inside which gives a very steady motion, still a little fast for my liking, but I'm working on that. And no I'm not making the internals work, but something to emit a suitable sound is on the cards.

There's something about the splash and gurgle of water, very restful, and if you are running trains at the same time, perfect! 

3/4 view showing the sluice with penstock gate. The outer bearing for the wheel, made from a reshaped firebrick, and the upper level platform and door. (note the bolts through the lower level walls)

Station end, second and third levels, with the loading platform, sliding door for finished product, and grain door above. ( Paddy and Dan no doubt discussing grain prices)